Head of a Woman (Dora Maar)
Paris, June 1, 1939
Aquatint, scraper, and drypoint in four colours on four copperplates
29,9 x 23,7 cm
Museo Picasso Málaga. Gift of Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. MPM2.149
Without doubt, portraiture is one of the key pillars of Picasso’s work, from the early academic likenesses that take us back to the intimacy of the child painter’s home to the harsh portraits of imaginary chivalrous knights, swashbucklers and scorned heroines. In this rich concatenation, a group of paintings and engravings made in the late 1930s and early 1940s makes a powerful appearance. Some are implacable for the hardness and energy that transforms them into grotesque visual records of a personal universe in which violence and impotence are exceptional protagonists.
‘“Is this woman with one eye, or three eyes, a development of Cubism?” I asked Picasso. “Not at all”, he answered. “This double profile, as it is called, is only that I keep my eyes always open. Every painter should keep his eyes always open. And how does that arrive at seeing truthfully, one eye or two eyes, you may ask? It is simply the face of my sweetheart, Dora Maar, when I kiss her.”’
[Picasso quoted in Julien Levy, Memoir of an Art Gallery, New York, G.P. Putnam, 1977, p. 177]
What was happening in 1939?
- Picasso prints the Vollard Suite etching series.
- The Spanish Civil War ends.
- Germany invades Poland, initiating the Second World War.
- Victor Fleming’s film Gone with the Wind premieres in Atlanta, Georgia.